Mon | Dec 5, 2022

Tufton wants greater emphasis on mental health in the Americas

Published:Thursday | September 29, 2022 | 10:59 AM
Minister of Health and Wellness Dr. Christopher Tufton (right) participates in the 30th Pan American Sanitary Conference. At left is Guatemala’s Minister of Public Health and Social Welfare Francisco Coma Martin. CMC photo

WASHINGTON, CMC – Jamaica's Minister of Health and Wellness Dr Christopher Tufton has called for greater emphasis to be placed on prioritising and financing mental health within the region of the Americas.

Addressing the 30th Pan American Sanitary Conference, he said this would be timely “on the heels of the COVID-19 pandemic, which significantly disrupted mental health services while prompting higher rates of anxiety, depression and psychological distress”.

Tufton explained that Jamaica is making the call against the background that there is a need “to address resource constraints and eliminate the stigma and discrimination that continue to undermine the region's efforts”.

The health minister noted that Jamaica has endorsed the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) Policy for Improving Mental Health and is supporting the Resolution for its adoption by the Conference, which is taking place from September 26 to 30.

“Jamaica commends PAHO for developing the Policy… in consultation with member States. We recognise the five strategic lines of action around which the policy is framed as critical to regional efforts to improve mental health,” he added.

Tufton pointed out that the policy's strategic lines of action are in keeping with Jamaica's efforts to advance the national mental health agenda, which he said has admittedly suffered significant setbacks by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The strategic lines of action include building leadership, governance and multi-sectoral partnerships and integrating mental health in all policies; improving the availability, accessibility and quality of community-based services for mental health and substance use; advancing promotion and prevention strategies and activities throughout the life course; reinforcing the integration of mental health and psychosocial support in emergency contexts; and strengthening data, evidence and research.

Tufton told the meeting that Jamaica is making its best efforts to operate in accordance with those lines of action, including the development of the National Mental Health Strategic Plan 2020-2025.

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